IBM's I'm-Sorry-Dave-I'm-Afraid-I-Can't-Do-That Patent

from the a-patent-odyssey dept

theodp writes "Astronaut Dave Bowman may have found the HAL-9000 more believable had the Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer been equipped with the technology described in IBM’s new patent for Generating paralinguistic phenomena via markup in text-to-speech synthesis. In the patent, IBM describes how you can dupe others into believing they’re dealing with a real, live human being by using markup language to feign sadness, anger, laughter, filled pauses (uh, um), breaths, coughs and hesitations (mmm). Here’s an example that shows how to make a more lovable HAL: <prosody style=”bad news”>I’m cough sorry Dave sigh, I’m afraid I can’t do that.<prosody>"

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Companies: ibm

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Comments on “IBM's I'm-Sorry-Dave-I'm-Afraid-I-Can't-Do-That Patent”

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13 Comments
Erik Moore (user link) says:

IBM Patents a long tradition

IBM should not be allowed to patent something like emotional markups for speech. Linguists, playwrights, and novelists have been using this method for a very long time in order to imbue emotional context and indicate pragmatics in text. Creating an XML mark up set that indicates mood should not be an exclusive right or patentatable. They would be better off pursuing copyright for some set of this that they might make uniquely. But indicating emotion, mood, and speech with meta-text markers is riding on many other people’s work who should have derivative rights on their own work. Large companies of late, particularly those in genetics and information have attempted to obtain unfair market advatage over openly available intellectual property by claiming unfair ownership. This is just one in a long and black list.

Mr Big Content says:

Re: IBM Patents a long tradition

Erik Moore sayeth:

IBM should not be allowed to patent something like emotional markups for speech. Linguists, playwrights, and novelists have been using this method for a very long time in order to imbue emotional context and indicate pragmatics in text.

Yes, but they haven’t been doing it according to the method and system for doing it as described in the patent, wherein the first claim precedes the second claim which is followed by the third claim, all carefully laid out in exacting detail. The patent is for a completely new way of doing things, not like the traditional old way at all. All those who have traditionally been doing it all along had better watch out: they may be infringing on this patent!

To those people advocating interfering in the patent process, I say: if you don’t allow patents like this, then why should inventors continue to think up such ideas? It takes real genius to come up with genuinely new ideas worth patenting. Then to discover that other people have been doing the same thing–that just goes to show how the important the idea was in the first place, that everybody can’t help themselves but be infringing the patent all along. That shows how important patents are to the economy!

Lonnie E. Holder says:

Re: Re: IBM Patents a long tradition

Mr. Big Content:

Actually, linguists, playwrights and novelists would not be infringing. Read the claims and you will understand why.

I also note that Leapfrog v. Fisher-Price was not considered when the claims were examined. Essentially, the computer was programmed to do what had previous been done by humans in person and on recorded media, and by authors in text. It seems like merely adapting what had been done previously in print and by humans to a new technology was exactly the teaching of Leapfrog.

Similarly, since feigning of emotion is a mental process and does not create a “transformation,” these claims also seem to be covered by Bilski. However, the claims were allowed before Bilski was decided, so Bilski would not have been a factor during prosecution, but surely would in any court case.

I also think the examiner gave up a little too quickly after IBM responded to the one and only office action in this case.

If I was an investor and patents could be invested in, I would not be investing in this one. I think it is imminently challengeable. Of course, IBM could also have filed for this one as a defensive patent rather than an offensive patent, and they may allow the patent to expire when the three and a half year maintenance fee comes due.

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